PHOTO: Voting machines inside the Williamson County Administrative Complex during the early voting period // Photo by Brooke Wanser.
By BROOKE WANSER
Only 9.18 percent of the 47,628 who are registered to vote in Franklin took to the polls this month to choose their aldermen.
“I think we’re all a little frustrated that we don’t have a better turnout for the election,” Mayor Ken Moore said.
“You can look at it two ways. One, the people don’t care, or two, they’re satisfied,” he said. “I think it’s probably a little bit of both.”
Chad Gray, the Administrator of Elections for the Williamson County Election Commission, said voter turnout was comparable during the last election in which all wards were contested, in 2005.
“What we had yesterday was actually pretty good in recent history,” Gray said Tuesday, conceding, “It’s still not very good when you think about it in the grand scheme of things.”
Moore remembered the alderman race when he ran for mayor in 2007.
“When I first ran, there were 14 running for alderman at-large,” he said. “Having more people run in the election has more interest and gets more people involved.”
But, as Gray noted, “Standalone city elections do not attract very much voter turnout anymore. It’s a trend across the United States.”
The alderman election, he said, became a standalone election in the 1990s, before he began with the election commission in 2000.
Mayor Moore vaguely recalls the reason the election switched from regular election years to off years.
“The turnout for the vote was good because of the presidential election, but nobody paid attention to the alderman race at the bottom [of the ballot],” he said. “National issues seemed to overwhelm some of the local issues.”
With the way city government elections are currently held in Franklin, Brentwood, and Spring Hill, it’s also expensive. Gray said the last alderman election cost the city about $43,000, and he estimated that this year’s would be similarly priced.
The smaller principalities of Nolensville, Fairview, and Thompsons Station all hold their city government elections concurrent with regular elections, which Gray said coss them each about $500 to $600.
Though Gray said it would be a bit different for Franklin, he still said the cost to hold alderman elections during regular years, “would be under a thousand [dollars].”
Moore said the logistics of such a change would be complex for the sake of term limits. “You would have people whose terms would be altered, either increased or decreased,” he pointed out. “It’s kind of a double-edged sword,” he said.
In Tuesday’s election, the highest amount of votes occurred during the upset in Ward 3 by Scott Speedy over incumbent Mike Skinner; Speedy garnered 852 votes to Skinner’s 257.
The fewest number of votes came in Ward 4, where incumbent Margaret Martin defeated Elizabeth Wanczak with 582 votes to Wanczak’s 400. That district also saw seven write-in votes.
Results from Tuesday’s election will be certified by the Election Commission on Monday, November 6, 2017, at 4 p.m.